John Alexander Henderson.

History of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen online

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position at their admission : Therefore for the further encouragement of
young men to breed themselves about this court, which certainly
capacitates them the better to goe about business and actions before the
same (seeing strangers cannot in two or three years understand the form
and practice of this Court) The saids Commissary and Procurators
undersubscryveing Doe appoint that no stranger that has not been bred
about the Court shall be admitted till they undergoe such ane
Examen and Tryall as the Commissary and members of Court shall
think fitt and pay ffyve hundred merks of Composition to the uses
specified in the preceding Acts Insert in this book, and that no stranger
shall be admitted if any of the Prors oppose the same. . . .

Att Aberdeen the 25 day of January 1722 years In presence of Mr.
Robert Paterson Commissar of Aberdeen & members of Court

The said day the Commissary & members Considering that by the
fatall accident of fire which happened to the Commissary Clerk's office
upon the 31st day of October last by past the haill records and papers
therin wer burnt and consumed, particularly the principall Register
containing the acts anent the money contribute by the members of
Court for their poor, the acts anent admission of prors and the
Compositions payable by them with the dues payable by written and
Apprentices togither with the forme of process observed before the
courts att Aberdeen ; And also Considering that Severalls of the members
of Court had exact coppies therof which wer subscrived by the
Commissary Clerk's servant upon the thirty one preceeding pages of
this book Att the design of the members of Court ffor supplying the
said Acts and forms of processes which wer burnt as said is : Therfore
the said Commissary and members of Court subscriving have Ratified
homologate and approven and by these presents Ratifie, homologate


and approve the haill forgoing acts contained in this book with the
forme of process written on the preceeding thirty one pages, And
Declares this present record therof to be alse valid sufficient and
cfifectuall to all intents & purposes as the principall register which was
burnt as said is, And be ther presents ratifies and approves the
admissions of the Prors before the said Commissary court, where
admissions are extant in the Shirreff court books. Sic Subscribitur.
Ro. Paterson ; Al. Thomsone pror ; Wl. Baxter pror ; J. Gordon, Clerk ;
Alex 1 . Gordon Pror ; Al. Milne ; Geo. Wilsone pror ; W. Johnston,
pror ; Jo. Cuthbert pror ; Geo. Keith pror ; Rich. Gordon pror ; Alex r .
Charles pror ; Ja. Udny pror ; Pat. Smith pror ; Al. Thomson pror ;
Tho. Burnet pror ; Patt. Duff pror ; John Hay pror.

26 January 1731.

The following Regulations were unanimously Aggreed to and
Enacted viz.

That the haill former Acts and Regulations be Ratified and
Confirmed except in so far as they are hereby Altered.

Item, That for hereafter There be no Licentiates And that none but
prors, call, manadge, and carry on processes, particularly That no
Clerk or Clerks servants medle therein.

Item, at outgiveing of processes, The pror for the pursuer Sign a
note Mentioning what papers he hath given out, and to whom, as also
the date, And that upon Returning the process The pror for the
Defender Sign a note, Mentioning what papers he hath Seen and

Item, That all defences, answers, replys etc. be signed by the rcxive
prors under protestation To Add and Eik as they shall afterwards
have occasion.

Item, That all confirmations be expede by prors.

12 January 1778.

. . . The meeting considering that the Magistrates and Council
of Aberdeen have begun a Voluntary Subscription for raising a Body of
men for his Majesty's service, to be called the Aberdeen Volunteers, for


reducing the Colonies to their former allegiance, they unanimously
approve of that measure, and empower the President to sign in name
of the Society for One hundred guineas for that purpose.

8 November 1782.

The President laid before the Meeting an application addressed to
him from the Lord Provost of Aberdeen mentioning the unfortunate
State of the Town and Country and the situation of the Crop which
in general remains in the fields uncutt, And the present scarcity of meal
thereby arising, And that a subscription was commenced among all
ranks and Individuals, Societies and Corporations for importation of
Grain wherever it can be found either at home or abroad, for which
purpose people were despatched Southward to purchase Grain, and
Commissions were likeways sent abroad, And the Lord Provost
concludes his Letter by asking the aid of the Society of Procurators.
The Society having considered the said letter are unanimously of
opinion and resolve that they ought to give a liberal Contribution in
this extraordinary season of calamity and distress for so laudable a
purpose as the life and support of themselves, their fellow citizens, and
the inhabitants of the town and Country, And therefore, over and
above the subscriptions already made by the members of the Society
as individuals, the Meeting hereby recommend to and empower Mr.
Gordon of Craig the President of the Society to subscribe One Hundred
Guineas to be paid by the Treasurer from the funds of the Society for
the purpose mentioned. . . . But as they consider the funds
belonging to the Society as a Sacred Deposit under their Care for
charitable purposes only, they hereby declare that the Contribution now
ordered shall never be urged as a precedent for any future encroachment
except upon such occasions of Urgent and General Distress as the
present, which calls upoh every member of society for charitable aid.

14 February 1798.

The President stated to the Meeting that he had thought it his duty
to submit to the consideration of the Society the expediency of their
showing their loyalty and public spirit in the present crisis of affairs, by


contributing collectively towards the exigencies of Government of which
so many Corporations in this kingdom as well as individuals have
already set the laudable example. He presumed that the propriety of
the measure admitted of no question, And therefore moved that the
Meeting would proceed to determine, first, the quantum of the contribu-
tion, and secondly, the means of raising it in a manner the most equal
and least burdensome to the Society, but so as to avoid any encroach-
ment upon the public funds, which he was humbly of opinion ought to
be applied solely for the charitable purposes of the Society's institution.
The Meeting after maturely considering the foregoing motion, unani-
mously resolved that there should be a contribution from the Society for
the above purpose of One Hundred Guineas . . . They authorise
the Treasurer accordingly, and to remit the money how soon he finds
similar contributions are in the course of being remitted.

17 February 1798.

The President stated that in consequence of a notification from the
Magistrates yesterday, it had been suggested that the sum to be given
by the Society towards the expenses of Government should be added to
the subscriptions of the Citizens at large, in which view what was ordered
at last meeting was by many of the Members thought inadequate, he
therefore, at the desire of Six Members of the Society, had called this
Meeting that they might give such directions as they judged proper.

The Meeting having resumed the consideration of this business, and
being satisfied of the expediency of making a liberal contribution,
unanimously resolved that One Hundred Guineas should be added to the
former subscription of the Society . . ., and they authorised the
President to subscribe the said sum of two hundred Guineas in name of
the Society accordingly.

19 February 1799.

The meeting having observed that, by a late decision of the Court of
Session, the Society of Procurators of Glasgow are exempted from
having soldiers billeted upon them, and as the foundation of that decision
is equally applicable to the Society of Procurators in Aberdeen, they



have resolved to claim the same privilege, and they direct their Treasurer
to notify this resolution to the Magistrates of Aberdeen and to request
that they will give the necessary directions to their Billet Master

17 May 1799.

The President . . . presented to the Meeting the New Charter from
His Majesty erecting the Society into a body Corporate by the Stile
and Title of The Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, a Title which the
Members and their Predecessors had individually enjoyed for several
Centuries as appears by authentic Documents in the Society's Custody.
The Charter also contains a very considerable extension of the powers
and privileges of the Society . . .

The Meeting further appoint the Gentlemen who composed the
former Committee, with the addition of Mr. David Morice, to be a
Committee for suggesting such alterations as may appear proper in the
Regulations of the Society agreeable to the New Charter . . .

19 June 1799.

. . . The meeting having taken under their Consideration a plan of
a Charter Room, 1 to be made out in the Record Office, for the purpose of
containing the Society's Charters, Title deeds, and Books, they approve
thereof, and direct the same to be executed under the inspection of Mr.
Kennedy, one of the Committee.

28 January 1806.

The Society, on the Motion of Mr. Alex r . Carnegie, while they deeply
regret the loss sustained by the death of Mr. Morice, one of their number,
late Sheriff Substitute of the County and City Assessor, have learned
with peculiar satisfaction the appointment of Dr. Alexander Dauney, one
of the Members of the Society, to these offices, being perfectly convinced
that he will discharge the several duties of both with distinguished

1 The room seems to have been duly provided, as at a meeting held on 26th November
following Mr. Kennedy was thanked "for his attention to the building of the Charter Room."


ability and with equal advantage to the Public and Credit to himself.
Therefore unanimously resolved that the President or Treasurer be
instructed in name of the Society to intimate and express the same to
Dr. Dauney in Court upon his first taking his seat on the Bench as
Sheriff; and at the same time to congratulate him upon his appointments.
Ordered a Copy of these Resolutions to be transmitted to Mr. Moir
of Scotstoun, Sheriff Depute of the County, and another to Dr. Dauney

24 March 1806.

The Committee to whom it was remitted to obtain a proper Seal with
a suitable Device for the Society having seen a sketch thereof from the
Treasurer, approved thereof, and ordered a Seal to be got agreeably
thereto. . . ,

Ordered the Charter Room in the Record Office to be painted ; and
the Charters and Title Deeds of the Society in the hands of the
Treasurer, with the books and papers for which he has not immediate
occasion, to be deposited therein.

25 November 1806.

The Treasurer also delivered into the meeting the Matriculation Book,
in which were entered the Names of the Members of the Society from
the year 1549 to this period, made up from such Records in this City,
and other authentic Documents as he had access to ; specifying the dates
of their admission, deaths, and other particulars, as far as his research
could enable him to go.

He also delivered in to the Meeting a similar Book, containing the
Names of Apprentices to the Members of this Society from the year
1774, when the first Charter was obtained, down to this date. . . .

18 January 1808.

The Society having taken under their Consideration the very extra-
ordinary manner in which Mr. Leslie of Powis l has of late, in several

1 Mr. Leslie was not a member of the Society. Mad he been so the matter in question
would have been dealt with in a more drastic fashion.


instances, when in Court, behaved towards Doctor Dauney, the Sheriff
Substitute, and to the Court, were unanimously of opinion that Mr. Leslie's
conduct in those instances was highly improper and reprehensible, and
that the Writings he has obtruded upon their notice were most dis-
respectful both to the Bench and to the Bar. The Society therefore,
Resolved unanimously to express on this occasion their just esteem for
Doctor Dauney the Sheriff Substitute, their respectful sense of his
Abilities and Impartiality as a Judge, and obliging attention as a
Gentleman — And to assure him of their Cordial Support in maintaining
the dignity of his office as well as the Respect due to the Bar. . . .

22 February 1809.

The Treasurer then laid before the Meeting a letter addressed to him
by Dr. Dauney, President of the Society, of the following tenor, viz. : —
"Aberdeen 12 February 1809. Sir, I send you a Seal which I have
taken the liberty of causing be engraved for the Society of Advocates
here by one of the first Artists in London, and of which I request the
Society to accept if approved of. I am, &c." The Seal was at same
time produced to the Meeting.

It was then moved and unanimously ordered that this Seal (of which
the Meeting highly approve) be accepted of and used by the Society as
their "Common Seal" in time coming. And that their thanks be given
to Dr. Dauney for this fresh Instance of his Attention to whatever can
tend to promote the respectability of the Society. j

9 March 1810.

The Committee of Management reported that in Consequence of
the powers committed to them for the Sale of the Society's lands at
Forresterhill the same had been sold by public Roup on the Second
Current to George Hogarth, Esquire, Merchant in Aberdeen, at the
upset price of £2,500 Stg. ...

13 November 1813.

The said — — having also been called before the Committee and
Examined as aforesaid, They found him not sufficiently Qualified to be


admitted a Procurator of Court, and Remanded him to his Studies for
six months, and Reported accordingly to the Judges.

21 August 1815.

applied for authority to enter into an Indenture with — — H.

As he had attended College for only one session it was stipulated that
the apprenticeship should extend over six years and that another session
at College should be given.

24 November 1818.

Mr. Francis Gordon gave in a written statement to the meeting of
the following tenor, viz. : — " That the Records under his charge as Sheriff
Clerk Depute had for years past suffered greatly for want of accom-
modation, as well as from the dampness and insufficiency of the places
appointed for keeping them. That repeated applications had been made
by the Sheriff Depute and himself to various County meetings, and the
situation of these records minutely, and yearly, reported on, by the
Sheriff Depute to the Judges at the Circuit annually, as appointed by
the Act 49, Geo. III., cap. 42, as will appear from the excerpts now
produced from the Freeholders Minutes, and of said annual reports, as
well as a copy letter from the Sheriff Clerk to the County Clerk. That
he (Mr. Gordon) had kept fires, and sat in the back office until his health
was so much impaired that he was obliged to give it up, and that fire
was occasionally still kept in said back room — but as the Records were
suffering, and as vermin had lately got into the office, notwithstanding
that cats and poison had been placed there — he moved that a Committee
be appointed to examine and report on these matters, as greatly
interesting to the Society, and as the Sheriff Clerk, although custodier
of these records, had no power to move them, and had hitherto been
unable to procure further or better accommodation for them." Which
Statement and Motion together with the excerpts therein referred to,
having been deliberately considered by the Meeting, they expressed
their unanimous and sincere regret that a subject of such deep interest
and importance to every Society and individual connected with the
County of Aberdeen, as the preservation of these Records, should in any,


the least degree, be overlooked, or neglected, by those whose province it
is to care for them. But, being of the opinion that it would be unwise in
them, as a Society, to incur any responsibility, on the occasion, they
declined to interfere, recommending however to Mr. Gordon to leave
nothing undone on his part, for having the grievances alluded to remedied
with the utmost expedition, by those liable.

Mr. Burnett stated to the Meeting the advantages, which, in his
opinion, would result to the future interests of the Society, by having a
Lecturer on Scots Law and Conveyancing, appointed under their patron-
age, who might open a class in Aberdeen, for the instruction of apprentices,
and others, and thus save them the expense of going to Edinburgh,
according to the present practice, and prosecuting the same studies there.
This suggestion having received the unanimous approbation of the
meeting, Mr. Burnett then moved that a Committee should be named to
report on the expediency of the measure, and the best mode of carrying it
into effect, which motion was adopted. Committee appointed accordingly.

2 January 1819.

The following Rules and Regulations regarding the proposed
Lectureship having been submitted by the Committee were after con-
sideration adopted by the Society : —

(1) That the office shall be perpetual, and an application be made in
the proper quarter for having the Incumbent attached to the University,
as Professor of Scots Law. (2) That his duty shall be to deliver a
complete course of Lectures each year upon Scots Law and Con-
veyancing ; the first part of the course to embrace what relates to the

Scots Law, and to occupy months, viz., at the rate of one

hour each Lecturing day, and five Lecturing days each week, — and the

second part to embrace what respects Conveyancing, and to occupy

months each year, viz., at the same rate per day and week, as

specified in the former case. (3) That the Class shall be open to all who
choose to attend the same, and it shall be left to the Lecturer's own
discretion to fix the amount of his fees, — with this exception only in
favour of Apprentices to Members of the Society, that the amount
exigible for each course of Lectures shall not exceed Three Guineas in
the whole for each Student — that is, Two Guineas for the first part of the


Course, and One Guinea for the last. (4) That it shall be resolved as a
standing Regulation of the Society that every Apprentice entering into
Indenture after the office is once established must attend the Course of
Lectures (both parts) for at least two years during the period of his
Apprenticeship, — failing of which he shall not be entitled to claim
admission as a Member of the Society. And it shall be recommended
to all such Apprentices whose Indentures have commenced previously to
the date of the appointment in contemplation, and are then still current,
also to attend two complete Courses of these Lectures. (5) That the
person who fills the office of Lecturer now proposed shall always be a
Member of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, chosen by and from
amongst themselves, ad vitam aut culpam ; but with this express proviso
or condition, that the Society are to be the sole Judges of the Culpa, and
may, two-thirds of them concurring, vacate the appointment if they see
cause, without being obliged in any Court of Law, or otherwise, to specify
such cause. It ought also to be a fundamental condition of the Appoint-
ment that the Incumbent should at all times hold himself subject to the
control of the Society with respect to the plan of his Lectures, and the
regulations under which the Institution is to be maintained and carried on.
And as it must be of the utmost consequence to the success of the
Scheme altogether, particularly at the outset, to have the office filled by
a person of respectability, whose professional knowledge is not only
unquestioned, but who combines with that knowledge some more general
turn for literary pursuits, the Society, it is humbly thought, in making
their choice, should look to these qualities as paramount to every con-
sideration, and give their support to that person, and to that person only,
who appears most eminently to unite them.

21 January 1819.

Mr. Andrew Robertson elected first Lecturer on Scots Law and

Thereafter Mr. William Stuart stated that he conceived it would be
highly expedient to have the Sheriff Clerk's office attached to the Court
House, and that a room for the preservation of the Records should also
be provided, the expense to be defrayed by the Sale of the Record Office,
or otherwise as may be found practicable. And he moved that a


Committee of this Society be appointed to meet and communicate on
this subject with the Committee or Committees, appointed by the Town
and County of Aberdeen, to forward and procure an Act of Parliament
for erecting a new Jail, and to report to this Society on the expediency
and practicability of the measure. This motion was seconded by Mr.
David Hutcheon, and carried by a majority. Committee appointed

29 March 1820.

The following Address was agreed to be transmitted to His Majesty
King George IV.

" To the King's Most Excellent Majesty, — Most Gracious Sovereign,
We the President and Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, incorporated
by Royal Charter, beg leave to approach the Throne, and to offer the
tribute of our humble but sincere condolence on the demise of our late
Revered Sovereign, Your Majesty's much beloved Father, and the
premature fate of His Royal Highness the lamented Duke of Kent.

" Under the pressure of these dispensations our concern is alleviated
only by the recollection that the Imperial Crown devolves upon a Prince
who has already given proof that he knows how to wear it, with honour
to himself, and for the glory of the British name.

"Permit us, Sire, on an occasion so interesting, to mingle our
congratulations with those of a loyal people, and to give assurance of
attachment to Your Majesty's Person, our Veneration for the Laws, and
our love for the Constitution in Church and State."

3 August 1822.

The following Address was agreed to be presented to His Majesty
King George IV. upon his intended visit to Scotland.

"... Most Gracious Sovereign, We Your Majesty's most
dutiful and loyal subjects the President and Society of Advocates in
Aberdeen, incorporated by Royal Charter, beg leave to approach the
Throne, to tender our sincere and most cordial congratulations upon
Your Majesty's arrival in the Capital of Your Royal Ancestors, Kings
of Scotland.


" While we, in common with Your Majesty's other subjects, feel
impressed with the deepest sense of the honor which has been conferred
on the People of Scotland, by this Royal Visit to your Ancient
Kingdom, permit us, Sire, to testify our attachment to Your Majesty's
Sacred Person ; and our veneration for the Laws, Liberties and
privileges which we have the happiness to enjoy,

« We hail your Majesty's arrival among us, as another gracious pledge
of your paternal regard for the welfare of the people of Scotland ; and
trust that Your Majesty's visit will be attended with the happiest effects ;
by animating all ranks with the liveliest sentiments of gratitude for the
many inestimable blessings which flow upon us tinder Your Majesty's
mild and benign Government. Deign, Sire, on this auspicious occasion
to accept this testimony of our homage ; while we fervently pray that
Your Majesty may long continue to reign over a free and happy people."

13 November 1822.

Resolution passed expressive of regard and favour for Mr. Alexander
Moir of Scotstown, who has now resigned his appointment as Sheriff
Depute of Aberdeenshire after discharging the duties in an able and
upright manner for upwards of twenty seven years.

26 November 1822.

Mr. Carnegie laid before the Meeting a Memorial relative to the
proposed situation of the New Jail, representing that several years of
experience had been acquired of the advantages and disadvantages
likely to arise from having the Jail discontiguous to the Courthouse
and at the distance of nearly a mile from the centre of the Town — that
in several respects a Jail or Prison at Bridewell would from its distance
from the Courthouse be totally deficient as will appear from the